MO-Sen: Rounding Up the Potential Candidates

Brilliant state roundup. Fronted by Erick. But don’t forget to put the state in the tags or it won’t show up on the state blogs.

With the announcement from Missouri’s Senior Senator Kit Bond, there is going to be something that hasn’t happened in Missouri for a very long time: a race for an open Senate seat in Missouri.  This has sparked some major interest, both here in Missouri and nationally as everyone starts to watch the jockeying for who will be the junior Senator. {Ugh, this means that Classy Claire McCaskill will be our senior Senator from Missouri.}  Here’s the rundown of those who are or ought to be considered for the post.

Sarah Steelman

Sarah Steelman is the former State Treasurer.  She served in that office from 2005 until inauguration day this year.  Prior to her term in the Treasurer’s office she was a State Senator, originally elected to office in 1998 representing Rolla and the surrounding area.  Mrs. Steelman was one of the two major candidates for the Republican nominee for Missouri’s Governor in the 2008 cycle.  She entered the election after Governor Blunt announced that he would not be seeking re-election.

Erick Erickson has already written about why there is much for conservatives to like about Mrs Steelman.  You can find out more about her positions by visiting her website. [Yes, it does appear to be left over from her Gubernatorial candidacy.]  One of her biggest accomplishments as Treasurer was the implementation of a terror free investing policy for the state’s pension funds.  The State no longer invests in companies that do business with state sponsors of terror.  Steelman managed to divest those funds without damaging the performance of the funds.

Steelman has already confirmed that she is considering a run for the vacated seat.  It appears that she will use much the same theme she used against Congressman Hulshof in the primary.

Outgoing State Treasurer Sarah Steelman is considering a run. In an interview with KY3 TV in Springfield, Steelman took a shot at both Senator Bond and Congressman Blunt, saying, “Senator Bond and Congressman Blunt represent the old ways of Washington. I don’t think people can tolerate that.” Bond endorsed Steelman’s opponent, Congressman Kenny Hulshof, in the Republican primary for Governor.

Peter Kinder

Peter Kinder is the current Lt Governor of the state of Missouri.  [He was the only Republican elected in a statewide election this year.  He will be serving his second term at this position.]  You can visit his official state biography here.  Kinder was the lone real bright spot in Missouri in 2008.  Every other statewide office either went to or was retained by the Democrats.  Kinder was able to keep his seat in the Lt Gov office by outperforming every other Republican in the St. Louis and Kansas City metro areas.  Kinder previously served as the State Senator from portions of Southeast Missouri.  He was elected as President Pro Tem in 2001 when the GOP took control of the Missouri Senate for the first time in over 50 years.

No one is really sure whether Kinder is considering running for the open seat.  He has long had his eyes on the Governor’s mansion.  Kinder was briefly a candidate in the Republican primary this last year, but dropped out of the race after Congressman Hulshof announced he was seeking the position.  One would imagine that should he choose not to run for Senate (or run and fail) that he would be the likely front runner for the nomination for Governor in 2012.

Kinder is a very strong candidate for the seat.  His ability to perform well in urban areas is not due to the normal graft and giveaways that many moderate candidates resort to when they are seeking votes in urban areas.  He gains his support by sticking to his principles and simply showing up at events and talking about issues that are important to all people like jobs and health care.  Unlike other politicians (even Democrats) Kinder attended the recent NAACP dinner in Missouri and stayed for the entire event on the weekend before the election.  It’s clear that his commitment to campaign anywhere and to anyone has paid dividends for him.

Kinder and Steelman have a soft spoken feud going on.  Just the other day Kinder responded to the above quote from Steelman (although not directly or by name, it’s safe to say that Steelman was the target):

But Kinder was closed-mouthed about whether he would try to replace Bond, saying, “I’m not going to join those in what I think is unseemly haste in taking potshots or announcing my plans today.”

He declined to name the official taking the potshots, but he did say he saw a statement on a blog that he considered shocking.

Roy Blunt

Congressman Roy Blunt (MO-07) has been involved in Missouri politics since 1979 when he was elected county clerk and chief election official of Greene County, MO.  He was then elected Secretary of State in 1984.  After a brief hiatus from politics from 1993 to 1996, Blunt was elected to his current position as one of Missouri’s delegation to the House of Representatives.  He served as the GOP Whip from 2006 until he stepped down recently.

Blunt stands to suffer some from “Blunt fatigue”.  Despite all the good that his son (the outgoing Governor Matt Blunt) has done for the state, he has become a villain of the left.  In much the same way that President-elect Obama ran against the third term of Bush, Governor Nixon ran against the second term of Blunt.  The constant abuse that the name Blunt took will likely mean that the Congressman would have a very steep uphill to climb in urban areas (which Senator McCaskill showed in 2004 that you need a strong showing in your opponents wheelhouse if you want to win in the very divided state of Missouri – urban blue and rural red).  He does however benefit from the name recognition that comes with having served the state of Missouri for as long as he has.

Jim Talent

Talent is the former occupant of the Senate seat that Claire McCaskill now occupies.  He began his political career when he was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 1984.  He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992 and elevated to the Senate in 2002 (when he defeated Jean Carnahan – widow of Mel Carnahan who died just weeks before the election in 2000 and won anyway).  Since leaving the Senate, Talent has been a scholar with the Heritage Foundation and also was a member of Mitt Romney’s campaign for the 2008 Republican nomination for President.

It’s likely that both Blunt and Talent would not seek the office at the same time.  Neither would be very likely interested in a primary campaign against each other.  Expect only one of the two to actually enter this race.

Should Talent get back into this race he will clearly have to perform much better than he did against McCaskill.  Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan is a much stronger opponent than McCaskill was in the previous race.  Talent will have to re-solidify his support in the rural parts of the state while trying to make ins in the urban areas of St. Louis and Kansas City (parts of the state that anyone with the name Carnahan has a virtual lock on)

Sam Graves

Congressman Graves serves Missouri’s 6th CD.  He was recently re-elected to his fourth term.  He easily defeated form Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes in what was originally considered a pickup opportunity by the DNC.  Graves has been a steady Conservative while serving in Congress.  He recently voted against the $700B bailout.

Graves definitely suffers from a lack of name recognition.  I would be willing to bet that the average Joe outside of his Congressional District know much about the Congressman.  It would be quite surprising if Graves did decide to get into the race (especially if either Talent, Kenny Hulshof or Bond were to enter the race as they all have much more name recognition in the state).  The area where he does perform well (his district is in the northwestern part of the state) doesn’t exactly stand out as a population center that would give Graves a large base of support to launch a statewide campaign from.

His Congressional biography is here.

Kenny Hulshof

Former Congressman Hulshof (MO-09) was the Republican nominee for Governor in 2008.  He lost in a landslide to Jay Nixon.  He served in the House of Representatives from 1996 until giving up his seat this year in order to run for Governor.

Congressman Hulshof would likely not be involved in the race should either Congressman Blunt or former Senator Talent get into the race.  He may not have the resources or the energy to engage in a hotly contested race this soon after the tough Republican primary and the blow out from the general election.

John Loudon

John Loudon is a member of the Missouri Senate represending the seventh district of Missouri.  Prior to being elected to the Senate in 2000, Loudon served in the Missouri State House of Representatives from 1994 through 1998.

Loudon is one of the young stars of the GOP in Missouri.  Clearly, he would be at a very large disadvantage at this point in the game should he choose to get into this race.  He has very little name recognition statewide and would be easily out-fund raised and out-campaigned by any of the more experienced politicians.  Loudon’s future is bright, but a stop at a state wide office would be a wise choice before trying to jump to the national stage.

The Democrat Candidate

The likely Democrat candidate for the seat is current Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.  She is one in a long line of the very politically powerful Carnahan family.  She was already the likely Democrat candidate and Bond’s retirement makes Carnahan the current front runner.  Public Policy Polling recently polled three potential match-ups in this race and Carnahan is leading (although in the MOE on two):

Carnahan 47
Talent 43
Und 10

Carnahan 45
Blunt 44
Und 11

Carnahan 47
Steelman 36
Und 17

There is talk the Congressman Lacy Clay (MO-01) may throw his hat into the ring for the nomination, but this would appear to be futile.  It seems that the entire Missouri Democrat apparatus is gathering around Carnahan.  Clay would end up as the also-ran for the Democrats.

As I See It

At this point in the game, this race is shaping up to be a matchup that is very similar to the Republican primary for Governor from this year.  Sarah Steelman is likely to be involved in this campaign regardless of who she would have to face.  The only question would be who her competition would be.  Since Talent, Bond andHulshof would likely not want to face each other in a contest I forsee one of those three (probably with the backing of the other two) stepping in as the front runner.  I really don’t see Kinder getting into the race.  He is most likely to spend the next four years gathering his resources to make a run at the Governor’s mansion.  ASteelman v. Blunt/Hulshof /Talent race would likely be just as rough as the Governor’s primary.  That’s something that would not be good for the GOP considering the Democrats are going to be gunning hard for this seat in their quest to obtain absolute control over the Senate.

This seat is a must keep for the GOP.  It’s going to take a lot of work over the next two years.